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AGO 1950 No. 388 - November 21, 1950
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Smith Troy | 1941-1952 | Attorney General of Washington

CONSTABLE FEES

Only a single statutory service fee may be allowed for the service by a constable of a notice and complaint, issued by a Justice of the Peace, on one defendant.

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                                                               November 21, 1950

Honorable Joe L. Johnson
Prosecuting Attorney, Cowlitz County
Kelso, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 49-51 No. 388

Attention:  !ttStewart Elliott
            Deputy Prosecuting Attorney

Dear Sir:

            You request an opinion on the following question:

            Where a constable serves a notice and complaint, issued by a Justice of the Peace, on a single defendant, may he charge the statutory fee for the service of notice in addition to the service of the complaint?

            Our conclusion may be summarized as follows:

            A constable may charge only a single fee for the service of notice and complaint on one defendant.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            Your letter of October 25, 1950, states as follows:

            "The constable of the Kelso precinct has inquired whether or not he may charge 60¢ for the service of a notice issued by the Justice of the Peace in a civil action and an additional 60¢ for the service of the complaint."

            In regard to constable fees, Rem. Rev. Stat. 7561 provides as follows:

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            "For serving any arrest warrant in a criminal action, or making an arrest in cases where an arrest may be lawfully made without a warrant, besides mileage, two dollars.  For other service he shall receive the same fees and mileage as is paid to a sheriff for like services."

            Rem. Rev. Stat. 497 establishes a schedule of sheriff's fees.  This section provides, in part, as follows:

            "For service of each summons and complaint, and return thereon, on each defendant, besides mileage, 60 cents.

            "* * *

            "For serving or executing any other writ or process in a civil action or proceeding, besides mileage, 60 cents."

            Rem. Rev. Stat. 501 states as follows:

            "When any sheriff, constable, or coroner serves more than one process in the same cause, or on the same person, not requiring more than one journey from his office, he shall receive mileage only for the most distant service."

            We assume your inquiry refers to those cases where notice is executed in lieu of summons.  In such cases, the notice serves the purpose of the summons, and we would interpret the first paragraph of Rem. Rev. Stat. 497, cited above, to include a single service on one defendant of a notice and complaint, as well as a single service of a summons and complaint.  Moreover, Rem. Rev. Stat., section 501 allows mileage only for the most distant service, where an officer serves more than one process in the same cause or on the same person on one journey from his office.  Accordingly, we are of the opinion that a constable may not charge 60¢ for the service of a notice, issued by the Justice of the Peace, in a civil action and an additional 60¢ for the service of the complaint.

Very truly yours,

SMITH TROY
Attorney General

LAWRENCE K. McDONELL
Assistant Attorney General

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